A Video Game About Finding Love And Sex Through An MMO

A Video Game About Finding Love And Sex Through An MMO
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Cibele, a new PC game released earlier this week, might just be the most honest game about sex on Steam right now.

Clocking in at about two hours, Cibele is a short autobiographical title that chronicles game developer Nina Freeman’s first love. The entire game takes place on a desktop…

You can click on any one of those folders and see what they contain:

There’s a voyeuristic rawness to the game — you get a first-hand look at everything Freeman has ‘saved’ to her computer. And I mean everything. Selfies. Awkward poetry. Emails. Social media updates. Most importantly, you gain access to “Valtameri,” a fake MMO that you can play with your online buddies. That’s where the boy comes in.

Without giving away too much, Cibele follows Freeman’s relationship with “Ichi,” another player within Valtameri. Now, I’ve never played an MMO like Valtameri. I’ve never met Ichi, who is based on an actual person. Still, as a woman who basically grew up online, I found that Freeman’s experience is frighteningly similar to my own. As a teen, I logged countless hours into games that I played just to chat with a friend I’ve never met. Sometimes, I’d fall in love. Or at least, I thought I did.

Nowadays, there are a lot of rules about digital courtship — some unspoken, others, with thousands of words devoted to them on magazines and online think pieces. People have opinions on read receipts, on sexts, on dick pics. I mean, there’s even a show for stuff like ‘catfishing’ now. It’s still a clusterfuck, and nobody really knows what they’re doing, really, but at least now the world has words for many of these phenomena. Some of it is even cliched now — how many dudes on Tinder have a damn tiger in their profile picture, anyway?

Back when I was a teenager, though, everything to do with online love was new and scary. What do you do when you think you’re in love with someone who lives across the country? What is meeting someone you primarily know online actually like? Can you actually be close to someone you’ve never met? Should I really send nudes to some guy online? I didn’t have answers to any of these questions. I only had the eagerness of a teen who really wanted to find someone to love, even if it meant fixating on some online dude who wasn’t actually that great.

I know better now. I know how easy it is to get emotionally involved with someone when you only deal with their curated selfies, clever tweets, and nice Instagrams. I know just how seductive words can be when they’re divorced from the messiness of actually being there in person. I know just how much easier it is to open up online to strangers, and how that doesn’t always translate to compatibility in real life. I know a lot of things that, frankly, wouldn’t have saved me from heartbreak back then. Maybe that’s for the best — all of that pain and confusion helped shape me into the person I am today.

Cibele, humble as it is, manages to dive into the chaos that is love on the internet with deftness I’ve never seen in a game before. Playing it is painful — it reminds me of a lot of experiences I’d rather forget, from a time I didn’t know any better. But that’s exactly what makes Cibele worth experiencing, too.

You can check out Cibele here.


  • It’s still a clusterfuck, and nobody really knows what they’re doing, really…

    So, pretty much like any other kind of dating? 🙂

  • They’ll turn anything into a game these days. I tried real life once though and it was shit, stupid pay to win games

  • Sometimes, I’d fall in love. Or at least, I thought I did.

    This is a completely useless distinction. What’s the difference, if any, between falling in love and feeling like you fell in love? The emotions in play are exactly the same. Truly loving someone may be something completely different to infatuation, yes, but that’s regardless of it being in person or long distance.

    • What’s the difference, if any, between falling in love and feeling like you fell in love? The emotions in play are exactly the same.
      No, they’re not… and that’s what happens when you REALLY fall in love and look back on what you though was love in the past but which was infatuation. Only you hadn’t known real love to that point, so you didn’t realize.

      • That’s why I made a distinction about /actual love/ and falling in love (or infatuation). The latter can lead to the former but they are not the same. However, all forms of infatuation (online or IRL) are the same. The feelings are the same, the accelerated pulse, the hot flashes, the dizziness and unspeakable joy, etc. You may fall in love with someone and then find out that for one reason or other it was not “true love”, but the fact that you fell in love still happened.

        • I still think you’re coming at it from the wrong angle. The point, I think, was supposed to be that until you’ve actually known what love is, you assume that the feelings of infatuation you’ve known previously are what love is, and you mistakenly call it that. Until you later learn that you had no idea what you were talking about and that’s not actually love. Even if feels similar to the beginning stages.

          Kind of like how someone who has never had a migraine before simply thinks that it’s just a ‘really bad headache’ and secretly believes that anyone who takes the day off for one is being a giant pussy.

          You don’t know til you’ve been there, and considering smashing your head against a brick wall to give you a more bearable pain, going to hospital because you seriously think you’re doing to die from a tumour or aneurysm, surprised at how it can be possible for a mere headache to make you nauseous… Once you’ve had an actual migraine, you know those impressions of ‘just a bad headache’ are woefully inadequate and do no justice to the reality whatsoever.

          Love is much the same. Until you’ve been there, you thinkthat’s what love is. And once you know what love is, you realize that what you felt before was only something you thought love was.

          That’s how I see the intent of the author’s phrasing, anyway.

          • Yeah, we actually agree in everything. I just think that the colloquial use of “falling in love” refers to the infatuation and not to actual love, so “think that you fell in love” sounds as weird as “think that you felt pain”. You /felt/ pain, period. If you didn’t, you didn’t think about it either.

            But you may be right that the author was using the term to refer to actually being in love with someone.

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